Buying in France: Unlocking the door to your new home!

Owning your own home in France is an invitation to a lifestyle rich in culture, stunning landscapes, and the joy of savouring life's simple pleasures. Whether it’s a permanent move, a second home or an investment, it’s crucial to understand the process in order to navigate the legalities and other issues; ensuring a smooth and successful journey towards your French dream. Let’s go…!

Finding your ideal property

Deciding where to buy is often the trickiest question! France is much larger than the UK, and with this brings significant regional diversity and choice. Where to live will depend upon your preferred lifestyle and family situation.

Prices will vary significantly across France, with some regions much more expensive than others. Coastal properties generally are higher valued than those in the countryside.

There are various sources of information to look for property: e.g. online property portals, estate agents (agences immobilières) and Notaires (a French public official). 

The house buying process in France

The process involves four key stages:

  • Make an Offer: Currently, most French properties will sell close to the asking price. Of course, a well-considered offer is worth making; however, don’t bank on a large reduction. Buyers should expect to pay estate agency fees of around 6-10% of the property price.
  • Sign a Compromis de Vente: This is the preliminary contract you sign following acceptance of your offer. The Notaire holds the deposit - usually 5-10%.
  • Notaire and Property Checks: A Notaire deals with any legal checks, land registry searches, and ensures a smooth transaction. You might need to obtain technical surveys, such as asbestos or termite inspections. Notaire fees typically range from 6% to 8% of the property's value, depending on whether you're financing the purchase with a mortgage.
  • Sign an Acte de Vente: You sign the final sale agreement after all checks and other conditions are complete at the Notaire's office. This officially finalises your purchase. The land registry then officially registers the property, finalising the ownership transfer.

Also, don't forget when budgeting:

  1. VAT (20%): Fees for estate agents and Notaires are subject to VAT. 
  2. Translation costs: Notaire’s overseeing the process will may require a professional translator to translate any documents and be present for the final Acte de Vente.

If you are selling a property in France, you will need to pay for diagnostic surveys.

Open a French bank account – this is essential when buying a property, making day-to-day transactions easier.

Buying with a mortgage

If you are looking to purchase your dream home it is important to understand the different options open to you at the early stages of your project. A French mortgage may be the solution! It is important to tell your Notaire if you are doing this to make sure it is included in your compromis de vente.

Most French mortgages are capital repayment loans with either variable or fixed rates. Mortgages fixed for the whole term (up to 25 years) are popular, giving you stable monthly payments over the whole term.

Final thoughts

If you’re planning to make France your main residence, there are other key considerations such as:

  1. Visas: research the process for obtaining a long-stay visa
  2. French inheritance laws differ from many countries, especially regarding children's rights. If you have children and are considering buying property in France, understanding these laws is crucial.  

It’s often also a good idea to rent before you buy… you can get to know the area first, and perhaps even explore other areas of beautiful France prior to buying your new home. 

CA Britline – your next step to buying a home in France

CA Britline’s friendly team of English-speaking advisors can help you with all of your daily banking needs in France. 
CA Britline provides documentation and other services to our customers in English. Check out also our useful guides for anyone considering buying a property in France… or more. 

Any questions? Please feel free to request a call

We look forward to hearing from you!


First published: 27th June 2024
Image used is provided by Getty Images.